Small satellites can be armed to protect space assets: Scientist
A constellation of small satellites -- each weighing 30-60 kg -- can be armed to protect the country's space assets in the future though at present the orbiting Indian satellites are unprotected against any enemy missile attacks, a senior defence scientist said Thursday.
"Currently the satellites are not protected. The only way to counter an enemy attack on our satellites is shooting down his satellites," Defence Research and Development Organisation's (DRDO) Advanced Systems Laboratory director Avinash Chander told IANS.
Here to participate at the 98th Indian Science Congress held at SRM University in Kattankulathur, Chander also said India was likely to test its inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) by the end of this year while efforts to build missiles with multiple warheads were also on.
To a query whether satellites could be armed to protect themselves against attacking missiles, Chander said: "There are possibilities of sending small satellites weighing 30-60 kg with warheads that can be activated from ground in case of any enemy attacks",
However, he added that India does not have the policy of weaponising its satellites. China has demonstrated its capability to shoot satellites with a missile by shooting down its own dysfunctional satellite twice.
According to Chander, the constellation of small satellites can also be used as back-up for India's communication satellites. On India's missile programmes, Chander said the agency is working on missiles with multiple warheads that can strike at multiple targets and steps to reduce the weight of the missile with the use of composites.
According to him, the year end would see the test-firing of advanced version of Agni missile - the ICBM Agni V.
"Agni V has strike range of 5,000 km and is built with high composite content to reduce its weight. The first stage is made of composites while the missile's second and third stages have a large content of composites," Chander said.
He said at 49 tonnes, Agni V weighs around one tonne more than Agni III but its range has gone up far more. The Agni III missile's range is around 3,500 km.
On the issue of joining hands with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and draw out a common component sourcing strategy to bring down the hardware cost, Chander said: "It is true there are common technologies between rockets and missiles. But in the case of a missile, it has to re-enter the atmosphere to strike whereas it is not so with the ISRO rockets. Further component specifications would also change."